A couple of years ago to my wife’s dismay, I introduced my two oldest sons Turner and Will to the fine sport of professional wrestling. As a man who has reached middle age, I can now reflect on the impact from watching Georgia Championship Wrestling on Channel 17 during my childhood. What is the impact? I can still pin my brother Bill in “The Full Nelson” should he ever decide to attack.
We haven’t wrestled on the floor of my parents’ house in almost 30 years, but you never know when a wrestling move may come in handy. Should Alabama ever decide to invade Georgia, I think I may be able pull out some of my old wrestling techniques in defense. I may even decide to wear a cape and mask so those invaders from Alabama know I mean business.
As for my children, it didn’t take long to realize the impact professional wrestling was making in their lives. One day when I arrived home from work, I discovered them on their trampoline stripped down to their “tighty whitey” underdrawers wrestling each other.
“Look at what you’ve started,” said my wife Ali. “I don’t like them watching wrestling.”
I tried to explain that since I grew up in a family with all boys that our sons’ decision to strip in the yard and wrestle was quite normal, but I don’t think I succeeded. Then again, I’m not sure what constitutes as “normal” anymore.
Since we buried my son Will at the Shiloh United Methodist Church Cemetery last November, I’ve noticed a sign posted to a tree where a walking trail connects to the graveyard. Last week, my father-in-law Randy Turner read the sign and suggested I do the same thing.
“NOTICE. THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY,” I viewed while clearly understanding the intentions of the sign. “Protected by invasion of privacy law ... You are welcome to use these grounds to walk, jog and etc. by permission. Please keep pets on leash.”
At this point, I was ready to move on. However, I decided to study the sign in its entirety. I’m glad I did.
“No offence is inended to anyone,” I read noticing the sign’s incorrect spelling. “These grounds are used by nudist at times.”
I scratched my eyes and re-read the last sentence again.
The cemetery has been my place for refuge, tears and meditation since Will’s passing. On this day, my mind began to shift from grief to ask myself, “How do I greet a nudist should one appear in the woods next to the graveyard?” I decided to seek counsel from a member of the clergy.
“Instead of asking the nudist to put his clothes back on, just start a conversation,” said Rev. Gil McGinnis, who grew up in Carrollton and pastors the First United Methodist Church in West Point, Georgia. “Just say something like ‘Sure is nippy out here today, isn’t it?’ or ‘Your face sure is familiar and it’s only your face I’m looking at. Do you have relatives buried here?’”
So, as I continue to return to this cemetery and adjust to my “new normal,” I promise to be ready should I encounter a naked man walking in Burwell, Georgia. Since my grandmother Thelma Garrett is also buried in this peaceful place, I promise to show her my respect. I’ll do this in the absolute best way I know how — I’ll keep my clothes on at the cemetery. She would be so proud of me.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.